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Fundraising event supports local theater company

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Broadway & Brew could be a perfect event — if the weather holds out. The Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma fundraiser is in its fifth year, thanks largely to the efforts of the company’s young professionals committee, said development officer Chantry Banks. But it will require cooperation from fickle weather to make this year’s event a success.Broadway & Brew is held outside at Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave.

“I love the Water Stage, which is where the live entertainment will happen,” said Banks. “People can grab a brew, grab a bite, sit down and enjoy a great night. We couldn’t ask for a more perfect venue, unless it rains.”

But events, like theater, require daring and luck. Lyric knows plenty about both since it began staging live performances in Oklahoma City in 1963. Fundraising events like Broadway & Brew are integral to keeping that legacy alive.

“All proceeds benefit Lyric Theatre and help with things like operating costs,” Banks said.

Some of the money funds Thelma Gaylord Academy, which is Lyric’s professional training school for young thespians and crew ages 5-18.

“The Thelma Gaylord Academy is educating the next generation of performers,” he said. “The talent in our academy is unbelievable.”

Once students learn the ropes, they work their way up into Lyric’s professional shows and sometimes move on to Broadway or Hollywood. Broadway & Brew found success combining two rapidly growing subcultures in OKC: craft beer and musical theater. Oklahomans’ fondness for craft brew exploded in recent years, thanks to the influx of local brewers and brands from out of state.

“We’re going to have quite a few local and regional brewers,” Banks said. “Seth [Lewis, one of the event’s organizers] has been great about bringing in some breweries that haven’t even debuted in the state yet. A few of them will be premiering at our event.”

That’s a major draw for craft beer fans interested in trying the newest brands before they hit the Oklahoma market.

Banks said local restaurants will provide light bites for the estimated 500 guests at the event.

“We’re growing every year,” he said.

In addition to general admission tickets, Lyric is offering VIP sponsorships with access to an exclusive food vendor and a full open bar.

Beer and food are enough for most events, but Broadway & Brew’s organizers have some sizzle up their sleeves with the energetic music of Bread and Butter Band and some performances from upcoming shows. The preview includes previews from Million Dollar Quartet, Rock of Ages and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Broadway show In the Heights.

Banks said Miranda’s Hamilton, along with a string of incredible stage adaptations, are driving new audiences to theaters for live shows. In turn, the newfound interest is opening doors for local performers.

“As one of the oldest year-round professional theaters in Oklahoma City, we are thrilled to be able to cast local performers,” Banks said. “I wonder sometimes if Oklahomans know they have so much talent in the city and the state.”

By training the next generation of actors, stagehands, writers and producers and giving them a place to hone their talents, Lyric is creating a lasting legacy. That’s an impact that won’t be washed away, no matter the weather.

Broadway & Brew is for guests age 21 and older. Tickets are $65 and include samples from several local and regional breweries and restaurants.

Visit broadwayandbrew.com.

Print headline: Broadway bound, Lyric Theatre’s Broadway & Brew fundraiser feeds a legacy of live performance.

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